Cooperstown, Otsego, NY
Graves & Averell Biographies
By Holice and Debbie

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Son of Abner and Mary Graves, was born in Walpole, N. H., Sept. 11, 1794. In the same year, his father left the comforts and conveniences of his New England home, and with his family emigrated to Oysego County, then considered an outpost of civilization. At that time Rochester was a swamp and Syracuse a "salt lick." There were but a few rude structures on he site of the present flourishing city of Utica, and Buffalo had not yet received its first permanent white settler. Otsego County was a wilderness, and the red man still wandered through the adjacent forest. This was the state of the country when Abner Graves raised the standard of home in Cooperstown. He was, however, well qualified to endure the hardships, incident to pioneer life. He died, at the close of an active and useful career, at the advanced age of ninety years.

Like many of the prominent and successful business man of to-day, Calvin Graves, the subject of this memoir, received the rudiment of his education at he district school. He was a faithful attendant at the school early taught in his village by Oliver Cory; and although he educational advantages of those early days were meagre, still he succeeded well in his studies, and subsequently entered the Cooperstown academy, were he pursued his studies with diligence and attention, and succeeded in acquiring an education that well qualified him for his subsequent successful business career.

At the age of fifteen years he commenced business with his father, and during the War of 1812 they had charge of the commissary depot, and furnished the troops from this county with rations.

In 1820 he united in marriage with Fanny Carlisle, a native of Walpole, N. H., born in December, 1795. They have three children living,--two daughters and one son,--viz., Harriette M. Wilson, resides in Cooperstown; she has two sons, Frank B. and George B. Wilson, merchants, in the city of Detroit. The other daughter married Hon. George Green, and resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They have seven children living, Calvin G., George, William, Elizabeth, Robert, Francis, and Woodward. Judge Green is a prominent business man, and at one time was president of five different railroads. He is now largely interested in railroads in the west and southwest. John C. Graves married Mary L. Keyes, and resides in Cooperstown. They have one child, Fanny G., wife of Lionel H. Cooke, M. D., a practicing physician in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.

Calvin Graves has been largely engaged in mercantile business, real-estate transactions, etc., and has ever been closely identified with the interests of the village. He was a member of the first board of directors of the old Otsego County bank, and upon the organization of the First National bank was chosen its president.

Mr. Graves is a self-made man. Early in life he learned that the way leading to success was no royal road, but was open to strong hands and willing hearts.

"Honor and fame from no conditions rise;
Act well your part, there all the honor lies."

He early established methodical business habits, and his energy and perseverance, coupled within integrity of character worthy of emulation, has rendered his life a success. Politically, he is a Republican, and has labored earnestly to advance the interests of that party. He manifests an interest in religious matters, and his long and active business career has ever been characterized by a consistent Christian spirit. He is a member of the Presbyterian church.


Although now past the Scriptural age of threescore and ten, and somewhat infirm in body, he retains his mental facilities in a remarkable degree, and vividly relates scenes and incidents of : "ye olden time." He is one of Cooperstown's most highly-esteemed and venerable citizens, and may the remaining years of his earthly pilgrimage be passed peacefully, and when the insatiable archer, Death, summons him away, may he go

"Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him,
and lies down to pleasant dreams."


Was born in Cooperstown, N. Y., in 1794, seven years after his father came to the town of Otsego. He received a thorough education, and graduated at Union college. He subsequently studied law, and was admitted to practice. He did not long continue actively engaged in his profession, owing to the fact that, on the death of his father, he found his time fully occupied with the management of his business and estate. Mr. Averell continued to reside in Cooperstown until his death, which occurred in August, 1873. His ancestors were mainly of English origin, and were among the early settlers of this country. He had some French blood in his veins, and inherited many of the characteristics and distinguishing features of that people. His grandfather served for a short time in the army of the Revolution.

Mr. Averell never held any public office except that of bank commissioner, to which he was appointed in 1841 by the governor and senate. The duties of this office were discharged with marked fidelity and intelligence. His political convictions and opinions were of the most pronounced character; and for the greater part of his active political life--contending in the minority--he was a valuable and influential man, and was recognized as a leading mind by the most prominent Whigs of the State during the existence of that party. Mr. Averell once or twice accepted a nomination for congress against great odds and with no expectation of election.

He was one of the original directors of the Otsego County bank, organized in 1830; he always remained a member of the board, and was several years its president. He continued in the First national Bank as director and principal shareholder.

Intellectually, Mr. Averell had no superiors in this county and few in the State. His brain was large, his perceptive faculties acute, his mind active, and his memory excellent. He had a keen sense of humor; and his acquaintance with men and history made him a most interesting companion for your and old. He was of the "old school," and held his views and opinions with firmness and tenacity; but he never harbored a grudge or cherished animosity. To the poor he was a constant benefactor; and when a man enjoyed his confidence he was his friend for life.

His interest in his native village was unflagging; but with the prodigality and extravagance of the times, so especially marked after the inflation attending a paper currency, he was ever at war.

He was an Episcopalian, and long a vestryman in Christ church in this village.

The friends who knew Mr. Averell well for many years will long remember him for his many excellent deeds, kindly traits of character, his great courtesy, his warm heart, his hospitality, and his usefulness. (The History of Otsego, NY, by Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)

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Transcribed by Holice B. Young

Copyright Debbie Axtman and Holice B. Young

December 24, 1999

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